GroFin, which recently started operations in Ghana, was announced as one of ten winners of the 2010 World Business and Development Awards at a high profile ceremony in New York on Tuesday night (21/09/2010), for their pioneering work in promoting economic development through the expansion of the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in Africa.

The biennial Awards, launched by the International Chamber of Commerce in 2000 and now run in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and the International Business Leaders Forum, is one of the central events in 2010 to recognise the contributions of the private sector to development. The awards form part of the UN’s drive to build a renewed momentum around the MDGs. The winners – chosen from a record pool of 172 nominations from 42 countries included Cemex, Heineken, Novartis, Reuters and Walmart.

The SME sector in developing economies, in particularly Africa, is notoriously under-served; severely restricting pro-poor economic growth and job creation.

GroFin is a specialist SME finance and business support provider, founded in 2004 in partnership with the Shell Foundation, that addresses challenges that small business owners face – namely, limited access to finance and lack of management skills. GroFin has pioneered a unique approach to serving this market: focusing on the potential of the business to make a profit year after year, and providing regular expert business support for the duration of the loan. This support is delivered by in-house, locally recruited investment experts in each country that have firsthand experience of local markets and sectors.

Mathias Dorfe, the Country Manager of GroFin is excited that the company has brought its award winning services to the door step of Ghanaian SMEs at a time when there is renewed interest in the country’s drive towards achieving the MDGs ahead of schedule. He has thus extended an open invitation to SMEs to take full advantage of the company’s MDG oriented services.

Regardless of whether their loan is approved, businesses that apply to GroFin receive a detailed assessment of the potential challenges that may arise in their business and the projected ability of the business to prosper in the long term.

Jurie Willemse, Managing Director of GroFin said: “GroFin has proven that investing risk finance in SMEs can deliver net positive, consistent returns. The success of the two pilot funds which the company started in 2004 has served as a platform for further funds across Africa. To date, the US$170 million GroFin Africa Fund is the world’s largest fund targeting the sub $1 million SME sector. For our work to be recognised at this point by the WBDA judging panel illustrates the importance of the small and medium businesses in driving development in African economies.”

“Although the contribution of SMEs to growing local economies is unquestionable, the SME sector has historically constituted a gap in the financial services market. These businesses often lack the finance and access to business training to equip them with the skills to ensure their business succeeds. Through the support of the Shell Foundation, we have been able to meet the financial and developmental needs of the companies we support, increasing the economic growth of their businesses and surrounding communities,” Guido Boysen, GroFin CEO for Africa said.

Chris West, Director, Shell Foundation indicated that, “SMEs in OECD countries often contribute up to 50% more to economic growth than African countries. GroFin addresses the key factors behind the high failure rate of start-ups and SMEs – lack of access to finance and lack of management skills to grow and sustain a business – and can apply this at scale in developing economies and across all sectors. Together we are now looking to promote this new asset class – Growth Finance – which we believe has the potential to match the growth and global impact of micro-finance.”


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